When we give an account at the judgment our hope to pass the judgment at the accounting cannot be our own actions. No one keeps God's law sufficient to pass God's judgment without being condemned. This passing through an account as in a lawcourt is called justification. It is a word that relates to judgment. When one stands before a law court for judgment, justification is when the judge announces a verdict of “righteous.” This verdict “righteous” is positive standing the opposite of being guilty and condemned. The person who thinks our obedience to God's command will bring us from hell to heaven rightly acknowledges God’s judgment and giving an account. Sadly they wrongly understand how one gets a positive verdict.
The “justification” comes through faith in Jesus because God has made the Son our propitiation. Propitiation means the wrath of God the Father is poured out on the Son so that the Son taking our place exhausts God’s wrath. I can thereby stand before the judgment seat of God because my Savior has saved me taking what I desire. Let me just take a moment and walk through some of Romans.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
25a whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.
A person is justified before God (e.g. they pass the judgment of God and receive a judicial sentence of “righteous” before God) NOT by obeying God’s works laid out in the Law but through faith.
Romans 3:28 "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." (This does not nullify God’s Law but establishes it, Romans 3:31). Even Abraham was not justified by works of obedience but by faith (Romans 4:2). In fact, God justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5). We have peace with God through Jesus Christ not through our human attempts to obey Him (Romans 5:1).
We are justified by His blood (Romans 5:9). We are reconciled to a relationship with God through the death of the Son not through obedience (Romans 5:10).
When I become saved I am baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection. What he has done on the cross brings saving benefits to me (Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 2:20). This should bring a change in our conduct which results in obedience. But my obedience does not bring my standing before God. NO! Only Jesus’ blood and righteousness changes my standing. Sin must first be removed.
Jesus’ death condemns my sin. It pays for it and puts it do death. The result is that in Christ then I meet the requirements of the Law. Only those in Christ Jesus have no condemnation.
Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Once again, we find that the Law cannot do what we need done. Obeying the Law does not remove my guilt. In fact, by the Law my guilt is heightened and spelled out as clear lawbreaking against God. So I need Jesus to be a sacrifice so that in His flesh my sin can be condemned but I can and will stand uncondemned. This meets the requirements of the Law.
How do we have redemption? Through Jesus blood:
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
As people who do not keep God’s Law, we have a record that stands against us. So long as this record stand against us any accounting on our part with justly and invariably lead to the pronouncement of guilt and condemnation. If we believe in Jesus, we become united to Him so that His death stands for us and in our place. We can move from being dead in sin, to being alive in Jesus. But He does this by canceling the debt we have by the fact that while He was one the cross that debt was symbolically nailed to the cross because He was acting as our guilt offering. On the cross that debt was canceled for all those who are united to Jesus through faith in Him:
Col. 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.